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January 2005

CAFFEINE
Great Expectorations


A spinning tabletop and strategically placed spittoons helped the U.S. Board of Tea Experts demonstrate tea tasting to Mrs. Lyonel Robinson, a New York women's club president, in 1954.

The board set federal quality and taste standards during these sippings—and subsequent spitting outs—of imported teas. Examiner Robert H. Dick (to the right of Mrs. Robinson) was only the third person to head the board after its founding in 1897. He was also the last. Steeped in expertise, Mr. Dick stayed on until 1996, when Congress abolished the tea board. "Its demise was so completely unmourned," noted a Food and Drug Administration official, that the agency received barely "a postcard" in protest.

—Margaret G. Zackowitz
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 Photograph by The New York Times


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